After almost one month of publicizing its new meal in Brazil, McDonalds had to withdraw it from circulation after accusations that the hamburger “McPicanha” (something like McRump) does not actually have any rump cap in its composition, but rather a sauce that gives the product its flavor and title. The burger launch has been even advertised on Brazil’ s biggest reality display, Big Brother Brasil, bringing lots of hype to the product.
Not to be left behind was its competitor, Burger King. Burger King furthermore triggered a PROCON (a consumer protection bureau in Brazil, similar to CFPB) investigation for deceptive the consumer with the “Ribs Whopper” sandwich . Launched at the end of 2021, like McDonalds, is just not made with the meat that provides the sandwich its name, but rather with the sauce giving its aroma and the flavor.
In addition to being triggered by authorities, both cases had harmful repercussions on social media through consumers, who were not happy when they learned that the two sandwiches were not exactly what they expected. The companies had to answer it and also change their menu.
McDonalds’ case happened at the end of April and, since that time, the company apologized for the misleading nature of the advertisement. In an official statement to the website UOL , they said “the launches take the novelty of the exclusive Picanha-flavored sauce (with a natural scent of Picanha), a new presentation and a different hamburger in composition and size”.
Ever since then, the food company removed the sandwich from all Brazilian restaurants. The advertising watchdog CONAR opened an investigation regarding the case.
At the beginning of May, White castle was criticized for the same practice. The “Ribs Whopper” burger only contained “ribs scent and flavor”, no pig ribs whatsoever. The company mentioned they were “always clear” regarding their ingredients, whatever this means. “Ribs Whopper” burger premiered at the end of 2021, but following the McPicanha scandal, the deceptive advertising came to light to the people and the media.
After the repercussion, Burger King changed the hamburger name to “ Pig Shoulder Whopper”.
Both companies said they included information regarding ingredients in the advertisements, educating that both “picanha” and “ribs” were mere tastes added to the burger. But they chose to include this information in very small letters, which can deceived consumers.
What about consumer confidence?
Consumer confidence is shaken and it will take time to win it back. In addition to the trust that was damaged with the brands, trust in the particular segment was also harmed.
We have several cases associated with brands that were inconsistent with their speech plus positioning and had a fall in consumer confidence recently by omitting information about the particular function, manufacturing method or even composition of their products.
For example , vegan beauty products that were being tested on animals , products that were positioned since fitness and healthy yet were actually super calorie , among others. The list is long, and although it appears common, brands need to operate in the opposite direction of the trend.
Mainly because this motion brought distrust from consumers, who began to lose confidence in brands, then in the segments that were at the middle of these scandals and now it has become a buying behavior. Customers began to research more before accepting brands’ speeches.
Based on a survey conducted by Adobe , which interviewed nearly 6, 000 consumers, more than half (57%) would stop buying items from a brand after a breach of trust.
The same Adobe research shows that 7 from 10 business leaders still find it harder to earn and maintain consumer trust today than it was two years ago. Which is a warning for brands, since Brand Trust has already been an old subject within businesses, but it is necessary to bring this particular topic up for discussion again.
After the backlash, McDonalds and Burger King were transparent, helpful and admitted the mistake. That is a good way to go, as, in the same Adobe report, 71% of respondents said that brands should show empathy searching at what is being offered from your consumer’ s perspective plus understanding what is important to them.
Within the Instagram post below, BK is apologizing to their customers and saying they were modifying the burger’ s name to “ Pork Glenohumeral joint Whopper” to avoid misleading consumers.
What do these cases teach all of us?
Although it is increasingly hard to gain consumer trust, consumer behavior and expectations modify all the time and the role of brands is to anticipate this or adapt.
Brands came a long way to demonstrate that they value what the consumer thinks. The task of the moment is just to help keep your speech coherent along with your actions.
And to keep the speech faithful to the actions, the first step is to align objectives with the consumer, to be more transparent in what you do and the way you do it. Without omitting information. Playing clean and with the client.
There was no problem with the taste of the sandwich. The problem was not being clear with the customer about what they were eating. And all of this could have been prevented without harm.